Discussing assisted living with a parent can be a difficult conversation. They may fear a loss of independence or comfort, and that fear can make them defensive. As the adult child of an aging parent, you may wish to just avoid the topic altogether. As your parent gets older, however, you do need to be aware of when they may need more help with the activities of daily living.
There are a few tips to help make this conversation a bit easier.
Don’t Wait to Have the Talk
It can be difficult to know when the right moment is to broach a sensitive topic like this. This particular discussion should be a progressive one, and it’s important not to try to sell your parent on the idea of an immediate move.
First, ask questions about their plans for the future and what anxieties they have about growing older. Your goal with this discussion should be to get your parent to consider the realities of aging. The more often and openly you speak to them about their needs and desires for their future, the easier it will be for both you and your parent to make an informed decision together on what’s best for them.
It’s also helpful to start this discussion before a medical emergency occurs. Once a parent becomes injured or ill, they may need to make an urgent move into assisted living out of necessity. If done early enough, an open conversation about your parent’s everyday needs allows your family time to plan.
Another concern for your aging parent may be preparing for the move itself. You can help your parent downsize a little at a time. They can visit the community of their choice, get to know some of their potential neighbors, and even join them for a short trip or community outing. Like most big changes in life, it’s easier to acclimate when we give ourselves time to prepare. This becomes even more important as we age.
Before the Conversation, Gather Information
Once you and your parent are comfortable with the idea of talking more openly about changing their lifestyle, it will be helpful to have some information to share with them, as an inaccurate concept of assisted living may cause anxiety for an older person.
The reality of an assisted living community might look much different than your parent has imagined. With a small bit of effort, you can help replace the unknown with a more specific picture. Look around your area for assisted living communities like the Mission at Agua Fria before you engage with your parent on the specifics of their move.
Personalize the information you present them and emphasize the amenities you think your parent would enjoy. Individual apartments, events, theaters, gyms, pet-friendliness—these may be things your parent hadn’t considered before. Bringing visual aids like pictures or brochures to the conversation can be helpful in demonstrating that your parent won’t be giving up their independence. In fact, assistance with daily chores and transportation could alleviate a lot of daily stress and give them more free time to focus on their hobbies and family.
Talking about moving an aging parent into assisted living can be a frightening experience. Just remember: don’t rush the conversation, gather all the information you may need, and speak to your parent as an individual. These steps will help make the transition easier for both you and your parent.